With his bill calling for the United States to block funding to the Palestinian Authority until it withdraws its request to join the International Criminal Court, Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) appears to be sending a message to three voting blocks that could aid a future run for president.
To Tea Party members, the legislation burnishes Paul’s libertarian credentials by defunding foreign assistance. And to Republican and Jewish hawks, Paul’s bill to cut off $400 million in aid for the P.A. could be used to argue that he is as pro-Israel as anyone.
Of course, anything goes in the run-up to an election. Last week, we called similar legislation “empty gestures” because they exacerbate rather than alleviate the problems caused by the lack of negotiations between the P.A. and Israel. And it’s important to remember that most bills
introduced by well-intentioned legislators end up going nowhere, much less those that try to address complex foreign policy issues.
Still, the question must be asked, especially since Paul is a rising star in the GOP establishment:Would a President Rand Paul, responsible for U.S. foreign policy, advocate such a bill? And if he would, would it be good for Israel?
If Paul advocates punishing the Palestinians because he has a visceral identification with the ideals that Israel stands for, that’s all well and good. But if he seeks to use American largesse as a stick as well as a carrot in the conduct of foreign policy, would he be just as likely to wield it against Israel for doing something a Paul administration opposes, such as building settlements? Those now rallying to Paul’s camp might want to explore that point. There are 21 months before the next
U.S. president is elected. Until then, voters should be suspicious of candidates bearing gifts.